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Freshfield Primary School

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Freshfield Primary School

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Vocabulary Instruction


A rich vocabulary is likely to lead to better outcomes for all pupils, and particularly for those who might not be exposed to them outside school (Mary Myatt)


Alex Quigley states that it is a truth universally acknowledged, that vocabulary knowledge is crucial for pupils’ academic success across all subjects in the curriculum. Pupils are language sponges, learning thousands of words each year. He argues that vocabulary is not just a feature of English lessons, but a key aspect of all learning areas across the primary curriculum. Students who have a rich vocabulary are better able to improve academic performance across all subjects.


At Freshfield Primary, the teaching of vocabulary is an essential component of our children's education and fundamental in developing comprehension, expression and critical thinking. Based upon the work of Mary Myatt, we strongly believe that children who have a rich vocabulary are better able to understand what they read, communicate their ideas clearly, and analyse and evaluate information effectively. Additionally, a broad vocabulary helps children to develop their creativity and imagination, as well as their ability to make connections and draw conclusions.


Vocabulary can be usefully divided into 3 tiers:



A strong vocabulary across all three tiers is important for reading comprehension, writing, and academic success. Children can develop their vocabulary through reading widely, engaging in rich conversations, and learning through content-rich instruction. Teachers and parents can support vocabulary development by explicitly teaching Tier 2 and Tier 3 words, providing context-rich instruction and discussion, and using a range of instructional strategies to support vocabulary acquisition and retention.


Vocabulary is a key component of our curriculum. It is regularly referred to throughout all interactions. We provide opportunities for the children to encounter vocabulary through high-quality texts, all conversations, independent reading, being read to, modelled writing, listening to others, encounters on trips and with experts.


We use a number of practical strategies to help children to develop their vocabulary


  • Class shared texts: vocabulary can be discussed in the context of the text being read. Children are encouraged to apply this learning in their class discussions and written work.
  • Class environment: working walls display specific vocabulary that children can refer to. They are kept up-to -date and accessible. We aim to develop a rich language environment.
  • Knowledge organisers: topic-specific vocabulary will be shared with parents on subject knowledge organisers so words can be discussed at home.
  • Specific teaching: where the teacher identifies certain words and provides direct instruction in word learning strategies (looking at root words, finding synonyms and definitions etc).
  • Scaffolds: we use sentence frames and sentence stems to support children in their use of new vocabulary
  • Practice: children are encouraged to use new vocabulary accurately within full sentences in their speech as well as their written work.  Ambitious or new vocabulary used by the children is celebrated by the teachers through verbal and written feedback.


Effective vocabulary teaching benefits all students, regardless of their socio-economic background or first language. By teaching our pupils new words, we can help level the playing field and ensure that all students have the tools they need to succeed.


In summary, teaching vocabulary is critical in primary education, and it can benefit students in multiple ways. At Freshfield Primary teaching vocabulary across the primary curriculum involves a combination of explicit instruction, exposure to new vocabulary in context, and opportunities for students to practise using new words in their writing and speaking. A focus on vocabulary is essential for ensuring that all children have the tools they need to succeed in school and beyond. By providing children with a rich and varied language environment, we can help to develop their vocabulary and support their learning and growth.